Expectations are running high for Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." After the massacre of the Red Wedding that managed to top the Battle of Blackwater in Season 2 and the beheading of Ned Stark in Season 1, audiences are waiting to see how the show will top itself.
Here are some of the high points from the 15-minute trailer that premiered Sunday night.
On the Red Wedding
You'd expect Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) to say about the Red Wedding, "I knew it was coming and it ripped me up inside. I cried." But the Hound (played by Rory McCann) saying "I actually shed a tear then" is a bit more surprising.
Things are not looking good for Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister. His ability to talk his way out of anything doesn't appear to be much help for him this season. “This time around, he's left as an audience member,” says Dinklage.
Co-showrunner David Benioff says, "This is definitely the most dangerous season for Tyrion. It seems like almost every episode, he's in jeopardy of getting his head removed from his shoulders." Lena Headey says her character Cersei Lannister apparently makes it worse: "There's no boundary with her and Tyrion of inflicting emotional damage. She's quite happy to do it.”
But he does get a hand up (though not two) in the form of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's Jaime Lannister. The two brothers "definitely have a love that Tyrion doesn't have with the other members of his family," according to Dinklage.
On the newcomer to King's Landing, Oberyn Martell
"He's very, very dangerous. But he's also good," says Pedro Pascal, who plays the new character. Of course, being "good" in the land of Westeros doesn't usually work out. (See Ned, Robb, Catelyn, Talisa, Maester Lewin, Grey Wind, Lady...) Though he's coming for vengeance, which has a pretty good track record of success.
Though quick to praise Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) as an actor, nobody seems to be able to muster up many kind words for his character. "He's got nice eyes," says McCann.
The Purple Wedding
The centerpiece of the season is Joffrey's wedding to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). In terms of size, it seems to rival the Battle of Blackwater — and, of course, if you've read the books, you know it's as momentous (if not more). "It was like shooting a short film in itself," says Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister).
On Jon Snow and Sam
Back at Castle Black, Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington) is the only Stark left not being held captive by anybody. Since he turned his back on his wildling lady-friend Ygritte, the Jon/Sam bromance is rekindled, though the playing field is more level. "I think without Sam, Jon would crumble," says Harington.
In Case You Were Wondering...
* Kristian Nairn (Hodor) was wearing prosthetics for his full-frontal nudity scene.
* John Bradley (Sam) was being chased through the snow by a quad bike to generate the proper amount of fear in his face during the opening scene of Season 3.
* Acting against the direwolves involves "this big green sausage dummy shoved in your face," or so says Harington.
* Coster-Waldau and Dinklage attempted to lighten the mood of a long shoot by dancing through their long entrance. The extras were amused, "but," says Dinklage, "the crew was really tired. I don't think they responded."
* When Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) are together on set, Turner says, "there's usually a lot of sleepovers and we do a lot of knock-and-runs on people's hotel doors."
* Christie says she bites a man's ear off and spits it in his face this season. Her laughter suggests she is either the most fun or most insane member of the cast. Possibly both.
"Things get going much more quickly"
That, from Benioff, who says that this season jumps right into the action rather than building to it like in previous seasons.
"It's more thrilling throughout than Season 3 was," agrees Harington. "There are more climactic events in Season 4 than there have ever been before," offers David Weiss, who runs the show along with Benioff.
And if you're sick of seeing your favorite characters die horribly, Williams offers some hope. "The good guys are coming back this year, and that's nice to see. We're making a stand."
Season 4 of "Game of Thrones" premieres Sunday, Apr. 6 on HBO.